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Coroner’s inquest begins into Regina man’s death at RPCC

The inquest is anticipated to proceed until Thursday afternoon.
At one point, Vance Dallas Ray Bellegarde appeared to have a seizure.

REGINA – Jury selections have been made on the first day of a coroner’s inquest in Regina into the 2020 death of Vance Dallas Ray Bellegarde. The five-woman, one-man jury will hear evidence from approximately 15 witnesses over the next three days in order to determine how Bellegarde died in the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre on Aug. 6, 2020.

Coroner William Davern spent the first part of the morning explaining details of how the inquest will transpire, then advising the assembled jury as to their role in the proceedings.

The jury heard main facts of the events leading up to Bellegarde’s death from Davern. On Aug. 5, 2020, members of RPS were called to the Regina General Hospital after a confrontation between Bellegarde, his friend - who appeared to be intoxicated – and security personnel at the hospital. At some point during that interaction, threats were made against the security personnel, hence the call to RPS for assistance.

When they arrived, police discovered Bellegarde and his friend approximately one block away from the hospital. The pair were arrested, charged with two counts of uttering threats, and placed in police cells to await a court appearance the following morning.

“As I understand it, he spent the night in the Regina Police Services cells, and was then transported to the provincial court room the following day for an appearance on the two charges,” Davern told the jury.

During the next morning, Bellegarde was transported to cells at the courthouse, and at some point appeared to have a seizure. He was then transported by EMS to the Regina General Hospital and ultimately cleared by medical staff. Bellegarde was then brought to the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre, awaiting a court appearance for the following day.

On the evening on Aug. 6, correctional officers performing regular checks noted Bellegarde in his bunk, but he did not appear to be breathing. Efforts to resuscitate him by correctional staff and EMS were not successful.

The first witness the jury heard from was Dr. Andreea Nistor, an expert forensic pathologist. Through questioning, she ultimately could not determine the cause of death as Bellegarde had shown no signs of trauma or anything amiss in toxicology results. Levels of prescribed methadone were discovered, but a dosage that fell within normal range, and was not alarming to Dr. Nistor.

The inquest is anticipated to proceed until Thursday afternoon.

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